Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Faculty Bios

We've culled a fine group of quality faculty members for you this year. Meet our dynamic group of experienced authors, illustrators, editors and agents. See what they've done, what they're doing, and how they're going to help you become better writers and illustrators. Their preferences for written manuscript critiques and portfolio consultations are noted.

Joy Allen

JOY ALLEN (Illustrator) Joy Allen has illustrated over 60 books for several publishers including picture books BEING FRIENDS, PRINCESS PARTY and BABY SIGNS, which is on Oprah's Young Reading List. She has illustrated the CAM JANSEN series for the last 8 years and has done several books for American Girl. She's received many awards too! You may have seen some of her licensed artwork in ornaments, fabrics, outdoor/indoor decor, cards, flags, and wall designs. To think she lives right here in the Sacramento area!

Critique Preferences: Portfolio Critique


Linda Boyden

LINDA BOYDEN (Author/Illustrator) Since 2011, Linda Boyden has written a poem almost every day. She taught school for thirty years, but when her husband’s work took them to Maui, Hawai’i, she abandoned teaching and focused on writing and illustrating. She has five picture books published and two more under contract (another picture book plus her first Young Adult novel) as well as many poems published in literary journals.

Critique Preferences: PBs, especially in rhyme



JaNay Brown-Wood

JANAY BROWN-WOOD (Author & Educator) is a children’s author and educator. She works as an Early Childhood Education professor at American River College. Her first picture book, Imani’s Moon, is the winner of the NAESP Children’s Book of the Year Award, is a Northern CA ACL 2014 Distinguished Book, a recommended pick on the “NYC Reads 365” 1st grade reading list, as well as a Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) Multicultural Book pick for 2015. 

Critique Preferences: PB


Stephanie Garber

STEPHANIE GARBER (Young Adult Author) is the author of Caraval, a young adult fantasy slated for publication by Flatiron Books/Macmillan in fall 2016. Caraval has already sold in over twenty foreign territories and the movie rights were pre-empted by Twentieth Century Fox. When not writing, Stephanie teaches a variety of creative writing courses at a private university in Northern CA. For fun, she's also a blogger for the popular website Pub(lishing) Crawl.

Critique Preferences: YA


Sue Ford

SUE FORD (Author) writes for children under her maiden name, Susan Uhlig, and has been an avid SCBWIer since 1993! Her most recent titles were ebooks published in 2015 with Schoolwide. She has also written 10 work-for-hire books for two Korean publishers and has sold over 160 magazine pieces for children and adults.

Critique Preferences: PB



Bruce Hale

BRUCE HALE (Author, Speaker & Troublemaker) Raised by wolves just outside of L.A., Bruce Hale is the award-winning author (and occasional illustrator) of over 35 books for young readers.  His popular series include Chet Gecko, Clark the Shark, and School for S.P.I.E.S.  An in-demand speaker, Bruce has visited schools, libraries, and conferences from New York to New Delhi.  When not working, you'll find him hiking the hills, kickboxing, or singing with a latin jazz band called Mezcal Martini. He can be fround online at,, and @StoryGuy1.

Critique Preferences: PB, MG


Tamar Mays

TAMAR MAYS  (Senior Editor, Early Childhood Group at HarperCollins Children's Books) is an editor with a focus on early childhood–from board books to picture books and beginning readers. She also edits Let's Read and Find Out Science titles. Tamar brings a variety of experiences to editing, having been a bookseller, a buyer, and once ran a Scholastic bookclub for 2nd and 3rd graders.

Critique Preferences: Board Books (BBs), Picture Books (PBs), Chapter Books, Middle Grade (MG)


Christina Mercer

CHRISTINA MERCER (Author & Retired CPA) Once-upon-a-time, Christina Mercer worked as a CPA. Though she retired that formal hat, you can still find numbers buzzing around her head. She is also an award-winning author of fiction for children and young adults. She resides in Northern California enjoying life with her husband, sons, pack of large dogs, and about 100,000 honeybees. To learn more about her, visit:

Critique Preferences: YA


Tim Myers

TIM MYERS (Writer and Santa Clara University Senior Lecturer) is a writer, storyteller, songwriter, and senior lecturer at Santa Santa Clara University. His work has made the New York Times bestseller list for children's books, been reviewed in the Times, and been read aloud on NPR. Tim's been a teacher for 40 years in the US and abroad, and specializes in teaching writing, creative and otherwise. He's also earned enough rejections to wallpaper a small house—so he understands. Find him at or on Facebook at

Critique Preferences: PB up to MG

Alexis O'Neill

ALEXIS O'NEILL (Author & School Visit Expert) uses small word-counts to create rich and varied worlds in her picture books including The Kite That Bridged Two Nations, The Recess Queen, Loud Emily, Estela’s Swap and The Worst Best Friend. A veteran school visit presenter, she shares the craft and business of author visits at as well as through a column in the SCBWI Bulletin, “The Truth About School Visits.”  A former elementary school teacher with a PhD in Teacher Education from Syracuse University, she is a writing instructor for the UCLA Extension Writers' Program. Visit her at and

Critique Preferences: PB

Gayle Pitman

GAYLE PITMAN (Author) By day, Gayle E. Pitman teaches Psychology and Women/Gender Studies at Sacramento City College. By night, Gayle writes children's books and engages in other forms of subversive creativity. Her first children's book, This Day in June, won the 2015 ALA Stonewall Award, was a Rainbow List Top Ten pick, and won the International Reading Association's 2014 Notable Books for a Global Society Award. Her poetry (and amateur illustrations!) will be featured in an illustrated anthology to be released in 2016 by Reflection Press. She has been interviewed on local media such as Capital Public Radio's "Insight" and "Good Day Sacramento," and she has been featured in publications ranging from School Library Journal  to The Advocate.  

Critique Preferences: PB

John Rudolph

JOHN RUDOLPH (Literary Agent with Dystel & Goderich Literary Management joined Dystel & Goderich in 2010 after twelve years as an acquiring children’s book editor. He began his career at Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers as an Editorial Assistant and then moved to the G. P. Putnam’s Sons imprint of the Penguin Young Readers Group, where he eventually served as Executive Editor on a wide range of young adult, middle-grade, nonfiction, and picture book titles. John is keenly interested in middle-grade and young adult fiction and would love to find the next great picture book author/illustrator. 

Critique Preferences: PB, MG, YA, NA, and art


Jessica Taylor

JESSICA TAYLOR (Young Adult Author) is the young adult author of Wandering Wild (Sky Pony Press, 2016). After graduating from law school, she realized she'd rather write her own stories than read dusty law books. She lives in Northern California with a sweet-yet-spoiled dog and several teetering towers of books.

Critique Preferences: YA



Penny Warner

PENNY WARNER (Author, Speaker) Penny has had over 60 books published for adults and children, fiction and non-fiction. She writes a middle-grade series called THE CODE BUSTERS CLUB, featuring four kids who solve mysteries by cracking codes. The series has won two Agatha Awards for Best Juvenile Mystery, and has been nominated for an Anthony Award. The books are published in Japan, Turkey, and Brazil. She's presented Code Buster events at over a hundred elementary schools, across the country and in Japan. She also teaches child development courses at Diablo Valley College and writes mystery plays for libraries across the country. Find more at,, and pennywarnerink on facebook.

Critique Preferences: PB, MG